Feral Kitten Update, 8/20/12
Posted on August 20, 2012 Posted by John Scalzi 91 Comments
Feral Kitten has a vet appointment on Wednesday for shots and a general checkup, at which point we’ll find out more about his/her condition (I haven’t checked to see if FK is a him or her). Kitten also still evidently seriously pissed at me. Also has absolutely no interest in the catnip mouse I got it. Further updates as the situation warrants (but probably not until after its vet appointment).
Angry cat is angry.
I have no need of your catnip mouse: My hatred makes me strong.
By capturing the kitty on a weekend and scheduling the vet appointment for Wednesday, you giving her (or him) double the opportunities to bite the hand that feeds…
Oh dear. Might want to go in with full on battle armor when it’s time to wrestle Feral Kitten into the carrier to visit the vet, if the look on Feral Kitten’s face is any indication.
Does your vet make house calls?
Catnip does nothing for cats until at least 6 months – it’s hard to tell, as I haven’t seen a picture that gives me enough perspective on this cat’s size/figure, etc., but I’d guess it’s probably closer to 3 or 4 months. Even after 6 months, not all cats like catnip.
That is such a gorgeous little cat … I’m terribly jealous. I hope the vet finds all well and happy!
I was just thinking about how to check kitty’s gender, and I remembered someone’s suggestion of leather gloves and towels wrapped around your arms from the other day. Then I realized that towel-wrapped arms would give an angry kitten’s claws very good purchase as it climbed to it’s next target, your face. It would make for an amusing story, but it’s probably best to wait for the vet to check kitty’s junk.
That looks like a pissed off Basement Cat for sure.
Good luck to you and your vet.
Hmm, seeing feral kitty again there makes me hesitate but I’ll say this anyway: I read that kittens don’t really respond to catnip until they’re around 6 months old. My 11 year old cat took a little longer than that if my defragmenting memory serves. I can’t recall exactly how big a 1/2 yearling looks is the hesitation point. So while hatred is plainly there, Dead Man Walking, s/he hasn’t rejected your catnip out of spite, imo. Bless you for helping hir! <3
One of my cats needs to be wrapped in a towel when he goes to the vet. He makes a vile mess regardless, but it’s safer for us humans :)
And yes, FK does look like Basement Cat. I bet he/she just needs a little time to get used to the idea of being inside and loved and huggled and fed regularly.
Thy offerings are displeasing unto me.
FK is gorgeous and pissed off for sure.
Don’t forget what I told you yesterday – throw a bath towel over him. Get a firm grip and woopsy-daisy into the carrier. He’ll be in there before he knows what’s happening,and no more newscratches for you.
By the way – my avatar here was one of two feral cats I adopted seven years ago.
The way to a feral kitty’s heart?
Sit on the floor.
Ignore the crap out of the cat.
The cat will love you.
FK is REALLY going to be ticked off at you after the vet finishes poking and peering and jostling him/her about. But then again, may be it’s a good thing and feral kitty will enjoy the attention. And we’ll learn if it’s a he or a she.
Let us now the outcome.
The catnip in the mice is invariably *old*. None of mine have ever shown the slightest interest in mice, balls, sachets or anything else stuffed with catnip. The fresh herb, on the other hand, (freshly dried, anyway) has them rolling in the aisles. All of them.
The other cats are going nuts for the other two mice (I bought a package of three), so I don’t think that’s the issue.
That cat missed a great career teaching counter-interrogation techniques at Langley.
I hiss at your feeble attempts to love me.
I notice feral cat has currently powered-down her/his death eyes. I wouldn’t get too complacent, though — it may just be a way to conserve power until the best moment to strike.
http://www.straypetadvocacy.org/socializing_a_feral_cat.html This is a pretty good write up of how to socialize a kitten who otherwise would be feral. Some silly people will tell you it isn’t possible to socialize a kitten older than 12 weeks- they are wrong. I wont’ call them liars because they’re usually very nice people. It’s just harder. Good Luck!
Let the vet deal with the hatred issues. I’ve noticed that no matter what I’ve done, the Vet is ALWAYS the baddie…especially when he has to use “the cat sleeve”. My cats are always very friendly after the visit to the dreaded VET…
How much do I love that you literally have a Basement Cat?
Probably more than I should.
Ive bled for every cat we’ve ever adopted and recomend thick padded over mitts. They can chew on that without hurting you or themselves. And I second Patrick Clearys comment. Keep him locked up till he asks to be let out and bring in your calmest cat after a while as an ambassador.
Remember this line:
“Hey, Krissy, I’m on the phone doing serious writer business. Can you just pop the kitten into the carrier for me, there’s a dear”
Be sure to let us know how it turns out
P.S. Name him Grue!
Didn’t Charles Beaumont write a short story about recapturing the Basement Cat?
If looks could kill.
I hear the cat’s internal monologue in Samuel L. Jackson’s voice. “Mouse? You give me a mouse? I dare you to reach in and take it back.”
I think shoving the chore off on Krissy would be mean.
I suspect she wouldn’t fall for it anyway. Unless she’s very unobservant, she’s noticed the scratches.
That’s not angry kitty. That’s scared to death kitty.
In my experience, even the grouchiest pets can be successfully bribed with treats.
I advise you to just leave the room when the vet attempts to take its temperature. He/she looks like it is plotting your demise.
FK looks exactly as my cat did when young, down to the little tuft of white hairs on the chest of an otherwise all-black cat. I recognize that expression too. I’d say part scared and part angry.
When mine was that age, was very fast and agile and very squirmy and a huge pain to get into a carrier. The towel trick would work with him only if you could take him by surprise and work fast. Otherwise, he was outta there and in the farthest corner under/behind the most difficult to move piece of furniture available. My cat is aging and has health issues now and is easily captured, though he doesn’t like it any better than he used to. It’s a lot less stress for me but kinda sad to see him enduring capture where he would once have been able to elude it and turn me into a sweating, swearing, how-am-I-gonna-get-us-to-the-vet-in-anything-even-close-to-the-time-frame-of-the-appointment mess.
Black cats rule! I hope he gets a home soon where he can run loose.
I’ve read that cats under a year old are completely unimpressed by catnip. Like, McKayla Maroney level unimpressed. Even after they get older not all cats want to toke the weed. My 12 year old cat always gives me a “if this is not food i’m going to cut you” look when I throw him the catnip mouse.
That doesn’t look to me to be purely scared-to-death kitty; it’s scared + angry. I’ve seen plenty of scared-to-death cats including ferals which weren’t angry, you get more of a “surprised” face rather than glaring.
Currently have two younger cats who were born feral and were with mom outside for 18 months or so; one had its eye gouged out in a fight with something, we brought both kittens in and to vet and had eye removed and ’em fixed, and the vet indicated the one-eyed one was probably not safe to release back into the wild. They, with our two older cats help, have adapted pretty well.
Their mom, who we captured and spayed at the same time (had a litter coming of 6 more kittens !!) required two layers of leather glove, leather jacket, plastic shield, industrial face shield, and two-foot-long grabber arm to handle while she was recovering from the surgery. I still had several bites and scratches, had to be worked up for possible Rabies (though fortunately just holding momma for a month rather than having to take her brain out to test directly). She went back outside after…
If you’re cat people and the feral bonds with a cat that’s bonded well with you, success can be total. The two-eyed kitten (now 4) of ours will run up and demand to be petted now. One-eyed kitten is still skittish around standing people, but will come up and run under you while sitting, and demand to sniff your hand and get a little petting in.
That is not a forgiving cat. Wow. Impressive Glare of Doom.
Crumpled tin foil may be of interest. I suspect releasing live mice would be frowned upon … with or without catnip.
But s/he is looking very healthy. Good luck with the vet.
Kitten! What is good in life?
To draw the blood of the bald man. To ignore any peace offerings he brings me.
I have a 15 year old sealpoint ragdoll. I had her for about seven years before hubby and I got married. It’s only been within the last couple of years she’s paid any attn whatsoever to catnip.
Glare of Doom is impressive!
I am now plotting revenge for the placing of your hands upon my person…
Have you considered catnip mousse?
I think that scowl is more about not knowing how to deal with circumstances as they exist. Kitteh hung about and let you know one would like to join your pride, no?
Thank you for rescuing the little guy.
I just read that Storm of Paul and Storm and his family have had to say farewell to their adopted stray cat, Reinhold. He has posted a very nice remembrance. It’s a beautiful example of what wonderful (and in some cases, occasionally frightening) friends strays can become.
That’s not a kitten.
Now THAT`S a kitten.
OK, I think we can all agree that the eyes of the small black alien have clearly escalated the threat level from phosphorescent to eldritch, and I can see a theme emerging here.
Eldritch is, according to Gogole, the premier British Manufacturer of Latex weapons.
JS, you really need to look at that War Hammer of yours to make quite sure that it is not cursed; admittedly you don’t bear much resemblance to Elric superficially, but a war hammer in search of souls is not to be trifled with. Otherwise your basement will become pretty crowded pretty quickly, and your bunny supplies, ie only one, are not going to last long…
I suspect Feral Kitten is very interested in Catnip Mouse, but doesn’t intend to give you any satisfaction whatsoever. Knew there was a reason why I’m a cat person. :)
Yeah, we have a vet who makes house calls. Important when you have a 19-year-old cat who is terrified of the cat-carrier, and with good reason, because nothing nice ever happens when she has to get in it.
Feral Kitten has a face that just looks like a boy kitten face. An angry boy kitten face, mind you, but a boy, not a girl kitten face. If he doesn’t like the mouse, try milk jug rings, pony tail holders, twist ties, flash drives, zip ties, or any other assortment of non-purchased items that will probably be more popular than purchased cat toys.
Your offering doth not please your godling. Take it back before I fong you and all your line for all eterity…
and with good reason, because nothing nice ever happens when she has to get in it.
I suppose one is relatively unlikely to take a cat for a ride, or take a cat to the dog park (imagine a cat park), or take a cat to visit friends, or take a cat anywhere at all other than the vet.
I think you have a pretty good chance of getting Feral Kitty in the carrier on his/her own. If you’re keeping Feral Kitty in some sort of small enclosure (did I read it was a rabbit enclosure?), then just put the carrier in the enclosure with the carrier’s door open. And maybe put a towel or blanket over the carrier and one inside.
Feral Kitty may decide the carrier is a better place to hide out to sulk and glower at you. Feral Kitty may decide that the carrier is a MUCH better place to hide out in when you open that rabbit enclosure in order to grab Feral Kitty for the visit to the vet. If it’s manageable, I’d even put that carrier in the enclosure a couple of days before the vet visit to get Feral Kitty used to the carrier. There’s a chance that Feral Kitty could come to regard the carrier as a great place to hide from you and voila, all you have to do is slam the door on the carrier and be on your merry way.
Based solely on the photo, one would think that you are an evil demon from the planet Kitteh Torture. Fortunately, I have four, so I recognize that look as fear aggression Have you tried tossing down cubes of cheese? Cheese has worked wonders for relaxing our rescues, as well as the various ferals brought into the clinic. Strangely, they seem to like cheese better than fresh-killed and butchered rabbit. I’m told by the (alleged) professionals, that cheeses contain enzymes (or something) that act as a tranquilizer, and calm the savage breast.
pwillow1 has the right of it. And even when FK has had a chance to get used to the carrier, I strongly recommend the towel method. It’s worked for me I don’t know how many times. Kitty gets distracted fighting the towel, and you have time to shove him/her in the carrier, towel and all. They can sort him/her out at the vet’s office, believe me. Those people have special magic with animals, or they would’t be in their line of work. And apropos of not this thread: Just finished “Agent To The Stars”. Bravo. Jolly good read. Definitely made some enforced off-the-Internet time worthwhile. Also read “An Election”. Another good one. I don’t think I yet own everything Scalzi, but I’m working on it.
You can google all sorts of interpretation guides, but the half-lidded eyes mean “I don’t want to fight,” not that it’s plotting your death. Cats are the opposite of humans in this respect. The rest of the body language – ears back, but not pinned, tail wrapped, low, hiding stance says “scared.”
I have a former feral that lived wild for at least a year in incredibly poor conditions. I finally caught her when her need for food overwhelmed her flight instinct just enough. After a trip to the vet and an adjustment period that involved a lot of hiding and being lured for food/petting, she is an incredibly sweet and loving cat. Probably our most loving, even over others who were entirely human raised. She will always be a little skittish, but she also has zero desire to go outside ever again. She has gotten out, and came back terrified. She seems to love us with all her heart and without the disdain cats are so famous for.
I hope that your feral proves healthy. If you or someone you know can make the effort to tame him/her, they will repay your efforts many times over.
He/she looks just like my little Maria, who was mostly feral when I got her.
@ Patrick Cleary is right: If/when it’s time to socialize said kitty, just sit on the floor ignoring it while you read a book, etc., talking softly to acclimate it to your voice – I think I actually read aloud. In a few hours Maria was crawling onto my lap.
The vet chuckled at her & said she must’ve had a terrible life in the “old country” – first cat that ever purred when he took its temperature.
She is a sweet little girl now – 8.5 lbs full grown & very affectionate.
Hope your FK experience is as positive as mine was, Scalzi clan!
War Hammer as possible name for FK?
I know how difficult it is to take a picture of any animal*
but to me this looks more like a teenager than a kitten.
(I’ve also noticed that the most used descriptor here in the
comments is “kitty.”)
Don’t know if this applies to cats, but the visible paw looks
to big for the [fore arm].
*IME, (sigh) clicking the shutter causes the animal to turn
around and start pooping.
They do that amazingly quickly.
There’s hope. We took in a feral cat and her latest litter. The kittens were small, and adapted beautifully. Mama, not so much at first. She vanished behind a very large and heavy workbench, wouldn’t come out, and even offering food would only earn you a bleeding hand and arm.
Took six months, but now the only agression we see out of her is when one her daughters has made it into my lap first. Mama turns out to be largely Maine Coon, so she is a really big and very dignified cat. She may not have been a true feral, but had been on the street for some time. But I’m still the only one that can get her into her carrier for a trip to the vet.
Looks like one angry, black cat. I hope his/her temper improves after the vet. Might take a while to build trust, unless it’s headed for a shelter.
That cat’s coat is in pretty great shape for a feral cat. Looks like someone dumped a kitten maybe and it had a month or two loose.
Advice: do NOT turn your back… especially if the lights go out!
Should name this one Feral Bueller.
Toward the right-hand side of the photo, along the edge of the (cabinet?), there is some kind of gritty-looking debris — metal shavings? I think that cat has a hacksaw or file and you interrupted it as it was cutting its way out. I bet it threw the tools into the corner and jumped in front of them. Better frisk that cat, it might have a shiv too.
Sounds like a cat to me!
I think I’m as impressed by your actions as the Feral Kitten will be UNimpressed by the attentions of the vet…
For now, try wrapping the catnip-mouse in Bacon. Later on, after you have gained FK’s trust using the aforementioned method, you may attempt to wrap FK in Bacon as well.
Good Luck… And stock up on hydrogen peroxide and gauze while you’re buying that bacon at the market!
PS. Try yo make sure there is No photographic equipment anywhere near your location when you try to wrap-up the FK itself (You can thank me later, John).
Darth Kitteh finds your offerings disturbing.
You know, I live that there is another animal on this planet besides humans that can pull that particular look off so perfectly. I mean there is not one doubt in my mind that that that cat is straight pissed off. Good luck with that, I think you’ll need it. Have any leather gloves? Might need them too.
NOOOO I missed a typo… I always do that! Love and Live. Damn it.
It is probably too late for this, but a Felliway diffuser might help settle him/her down a bit. We moved across the country recently and it really helped our cats with the stress of it all.
We adopted a feral kitten. She seemed normal at the shelter. She has proceeded to bite me and scratch me at every turn. She will not stay in the same room as me. She has to be knocked out when she goes to the vet. It’s been nine years and I still can’t pet her. Now that’s a cat. Luckily the other three we have are normal, well comparatively.
John, don’t worry about the Catnip mouse, kittens don’t usually respond to Catnip. The cat has to be about a year old before catnip stimulates them.
If you think Feral Kitten hates you now. Wait till after you remove his private parts.
A cat that angry may have been abused.
You should try http://www.feliway.com/us/, we used this when we brought a wild cat into the house for the first time, helped keep the cat calm and not mark everything once we let him out into the house.
What beautiful green eyes that cat has. It probably is angry because it’s not used to the human touch.
From my kitten taming days (long past), the easiest way to socialize a kitten is to bring it into your bedroom. Then go to sleep. You will wake to a kitten that is no longer afraid of you.
Anyone who’s ever slept in the same room as a feral kitten and lived to tell the tale would agree.
I recognize that look. My cat ‘Tomi gave me that look when I met her at the adoption fair.
Now she sleeps curled up at my side at night.
As pwillow1 said, it’s a great idea to keep the carrier close to the cat, with a towel and food and water inside. The idea is for the cat to come to think of the carrier as its safe place.
It’s really swell of you and yours to make a home for black kitty. Not to quibble, but I’ve lived through ‘seriously pissed cat’, and it doesn’t look like this photo. Hope s/he comes around soon.
Some friends (who were of course psychology students) adopted a feral cat and domesticated it by building a network of tunnels out of cardboard boxes, so the cat could get around from room to room without exposure. Then over a long period they gradually cut more and larger gaps in the cardboard. Maybe that would help? I don’t know.
As someone who’s rescued over a dozen feral cats over the years my advice is just give it time. As someone else suggested, go into the space, and just sit there ignoring it. If it comes over, let it interact with you on its own terms. Our current cat we first trapped a couple years ago. She had gotten into the basement through an unlatched window. When we tried to catch her she was bouncing off the wall like flubber on meth. We did the spay & release, and over the next couple years I spent a lot of time sitting outside, sometimes in the freezing cold, to get her to bond with me. She finally came indoors, and is a total lap whore now. The link in my name goes to her Flickr set, she’s a bit neurotic, but snuggles up with me every night in bed.
That’s not a feral Kitten; that’s an angry fan.
Can’t you tell the difference anymore?
Well, it did poop on a book of mine that was in the room.
(would have been funny if it had, however)
On the subject of scared versus angry kitty: this guy looks scared to me. However, at least in my experience with cats, the dividing line between the two emotions is fuzzy.
Our very own beloved Angry Kitty is getting a bit older, and we could probably get her into the crate all right, but once at the vet, oh, the howling and wailing and growling and screaming, the baring of fangs and the hissing, the other cat parents wondering aloud what is UP with that cat, and, of course, in the end, the hate pooping. Our vet gives us a kitty trank called Ace-something (acepromezine?), which crushes into a pretty pink paste that, mixed with a spoonful of canned cat food, is apparently delicious. Kitty still howls and gnashes (etc.), but her reflexes are slow enough to ensure the vet staff’s survival. Added bonus points for Very Stoned Kitty the rest of the day, generally staggering around, lying floppily, and making this face: 0-O.
Still with the hate pooping when they re-crate her, generally, though.
@ Jen and @ Alex – Oh yes, Feliway (aka Comfort Zone)!! Why did I forget that? It is EXCELLENT – highly recommended.
@ Kat Goodwin – I thought its coat looks good too, though maybe in the summer a cat in semi-rural Ohio would have an easy time staying fed.
@Mary Sue: Nice (and quick!) work on the meme. :o)
Also, I’m going to go with a ‘him’… his jowls look a bit tom cattish in that picture. (if he’s old enough for that effect)
“The tomcat’s thick neck and fleshy jowls are secondary sexual characteristics designed to protect him when fighting with competing males. They begin to appear when he reaches sexual maturity, between 6 and 9 months of age.”
Read more: Tomcat Behavior | eHow.com http://www.ehow.com/facts_7229723_tomcat-behavior.html#ixzz24DXX0sr4
I guess it’s a little more likely to be seen here rather than in the “found it” thread, so I’ll leave this here. If you have to catch a feral kitty, and are trying to grab it, a big towel or small blanket is your friend. Throw the towel onto the kitty. That makes it very very hard for them to run, as they can’t see. And it let’s you pick them up with less chance of punctures. My $.02.
@JS 3:23 pm
Oh crud, do I need to play with my filters?
‘Cause I’m not seeing Scorpius mentioning poop*
*Not an asterisk: A star from *.* which means “and
any thing ’til a space or such.”
Mr King doesn’t write stories like: format /*.* ’cause
the dude has limits, right? Shawn
At me, above:
Sigh. Now I get it. -Wanders off to see if I
have any catnip or vodka ’cause a cuppa
spiked catnip tea might be just the thing.